Review: Xenoglyphs by Omar Spahi and PJ Catacutan

Alex Wilson writes;

Independently published books are usually printed the writers or artists for a reason, they aren’t up to publisher standards, but every once in a while you see a series that has potential to become a great series. Xenoglyphs is, in my opinion, one of those books. Written by Omar Spahi and featuring the art of P.J. Catacutan, this book presents a fun readable idea.

In short, there are magic stones that have been passed down through history. Men and women have taken these stones and become gods among men. Spahi creates a mythology around the magic stones or “Xenoglyphs” and says that the Greek gods all had these stones and this is where Greek mythology comes from. There are nine Xenoglyphs and they all harness a different element. The idea is if one person collected all nine stones then they would be become God, as defined by the major religions.

The story centers around two men named Steven and Dom, who are tasked with keeping the Xenoglyphs separate from each other, insuring that no one unites all the stones and becomes all powerful. As always, there is someone trying to unite the stones and hold that power in their grasp, a man who calls himself Anubis. The best way to describe this series is Avatar: The Last Air Bender meets an age appropriate American Gods.

The first three issues are set in Egypt and it works. Spahi entwines modern day events into his story (most recently the revolution in Egypt.) The story moves at an enjoyable pace, but at some points in the third issue feels a bit rushed.

This book is geared towards all ages and the concept works on that level. There is enough to keep an older reader interested but nothing too complex or gruesome that you can’t give the book to a younger reader. I found myself thinking this would make a great Saturday morning cartoon. The story keeps my interest but it isn’t a challenging read.

My one complaint is that the characters sometimes make “geeky” references, most notably World of Warcraft. Now, that may not seem like something to complain about but the characters in the series don’t seem like the type that would sit in front of a compute screen and play video games. They are world travelers who appear to live more in the real world than the virtual one. Spahi most likely put them in as a nod to others who are fans but the references, while fun to spot, just seem out of place in this book, especially coming from Dom and Steven.

The art is good but not amazing. In the third issue is where Catacutan seems to have found his groove. The first two issues are well done but the third issue fits the book better. The feeling I get is that he had more freedom in the third issue to explore different settings and more characters to toy with.

Over all, the book is fun. I enjoy the younger audience appeal along with the concept as a whole. If you dig independent books then I would track this book down. If you are looking for something age appropriate to give your kids, then this Xenoglyphs is a good option.